Matcha, from designer David Harding and publisher Grail Games, is another card game based around the ceremony of serving tea (remember Elevenses?). Wow, that is seriously not something I ever expected to type. But yeah, it’s actually not the first tea-based card game we’ve played – although it is the most entertaining.
While the themes may sort of be the same (Elevenses is about having a tea party, while this is about preparing a Japanese tea ceremony), Matcha is definitely a different game. It’s entirely focused on set collection, with players competing to either be the first to gather four of the same components or one of each for a complete set of five. And it uses wooden tokens!
Rob: I thought the little bits for the utensils were cute. I ended up with quite a few bowls.
Diana: They were definitely a nice touch, although I kept forgetting that the scoops were scoops and always thought they were whisks.
Rob: I can understand that. The little yellow sticks seemed more like what we’d think of as a whisk, as opposed to the white fan-looking things.
Diana: The ladles are so small, too. I couldn’t stop worrying that we’d lose a couple of the pieces while we were playing.
Gathering these tokens is a pretty straightforward affair. After setting up for a round, there are six cards for players to compete for that represent the different utensils. Of course it’s randomized, so there’s a chance that the piece you’re waiting for won’t show up, but I’m pretty sure that’s why you can win with a full set or a set of duplicates. Anyway, each player will have a hand of five cards, and they can use one to bid on a given card in the center. Depending on where the offer card is placed, they’ll either need to match the card’s suit or number in order to win it (there are special “mat” cards that determine this).
When a player wins an offer card, they earn one token for the utensil displayed on it. If they don’t match it at all (i.e fail to match the suit or the number, depending on which mat it’s placed on), they’ll earn a whisk instead. So sometimes losing a bid is actually a good thing.
Diana: I definitely thought this was a lot more interesting than the other game about tea parties. There’s a bit more going on here, mechanically, and I feel like it fit the theme much better.
Rob: It certainly had some interesting moments, with things like never having enough cards to bid on everything during a round and sometimes accidentally tripping each other up when trying to get whisks.
Diana: I liked it. I think it makes a good ice-breaker, filler, or whatever you may want a simple but still thoughtful two-player game to be.
Rob: Me too, although having to repeat the setup process for every single round was kind of a drag.
Not that the setup is particularly taxing. It does require gathering up all of the cards, separating out the two “0” cards, shuffling everything up into two piles with different amounts of cards, adding the “0” cards back in, and re-shuffling and dealing out the larger pile of cards. I certainly wouldn’t call it the worst game setup I’ve every had to endure, but it’s just involved enough to be a bit annoying when you have to keep repeating the process several times in one game.
Matcha is certainly a good time, though. Not a very complex one, or a very deep one (heheh, “Deep One”), but it’d be a good fit for anyone looking for something to play between bigger games or to use as an introduction for board game newbies. You don’t have to try and force your own sense of thematic amusement into it, either (*cough*Elevenses*cough*).
(Gameosity was provided a copy of this game for review. We were not otherwise compensated.)